Aunt thanks nephew for helping

Aunt thanks nephew for helping… “I think that’s everything, Auntie T,” I said, putting the last in a series of heavy cardboard boxes down on my aunt’s living room floor. I had volunteered for the job of helping my Aunt Tina move her stuff into her new apartment, and we had been at it for about 7 hours now. I was pretty sweaty, and pretty happy to be done.

“Almost Markie dear, now we just need to start bringing in my piano collection.” She was always a hoot, my Auntie Tina. She gave me a little smile and tousled my hair. “Thank you for helping me out with this. I’ll make sure your mom knows what a good job you did.”

Auntie Tina was my mother’s younger sister, and we had always had a great relationship. After my dad had died last year, she decided to move back from her small house in suburbs to this just-about-as-small apartment in the country, just to be closer to my mom in her time of need. My mom insisted she didn’t have to, but that was my Auntie Tina. She always knew better.

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“Thanks, Auntie,” I said with a smile. “Maybe she’ll let me stay up past 10PM now.” This was a joke, obviously as I was 20 now and had pretty much free reign… although I was still living in my mom’s house. Maybe a little part of me was worried to leave my mom alone as well. She was always very stoic about everything on the outside, but I kind of felt like she didn’t want me to see her struggle. I just didn’t feel like it was the right time to move out yet. Or maybe I wasn’t ready either.

Auntie T closed the door behind me and looked around. “So, this is my new home,” she said. “Not so bad… once I get all these boxes out of the way. It might even be a little bigger than my old house, plus I don’t have to mow the lawn anymore!”

“That’s the spirit, Auntie T,” I said. “I’m glad you’re close by now. I think Mom could use a little extra support. Plus, now I have somewhere to hang out when I need to get out of the house,” I said, giving her a nudge with my elbow. I knew I would be over there a lot, too. Auntie Tina had always been my sympathetic ear over the years when I needed to talk about stuff that … well, my parents wouldn’t have been ready for. Every so often, she would call the house and we’d end up talking for hours.

“Of course Mark honey, you’re welcome any time,” she said with a big smile. “Why don’t you come in and sit down, and rest for a few before you go? See if you can get the TV working too, so we can watch a show or something. I’ll start to unload some of this stuff.” With that, she disappeared into the kitchen with a big brown box.

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I got to work on setting up the TV. Fortunately we had done a pretty good job labeling all the wires and it didn’t take long at all. I had finally gotten the evening news going when my aunt came back from the kitchen, with two bottles of beer in her hand. She sat down on the couch and patted the seat next to her. “Come have a seat, sweetie!” she chirped. “Let’s see what channels you all get around here.” She grabbed the remote and started flipping through.

I sat down next to her and she handed me one of the beer bottles. “Auntie, I don’t know,” I said coyly. “I’m only 20… I probably shouldn’t.”

She rolled her eyes, knowing better as always. “Just take the damn thing,” she said. “You’ve earned it. I won’t tell Mom.” She was always the one to sneak me candy when I was a kid and my mom had forbidden it. Some things never change.

I took the beer, pretending to be reluctant about it, and started to drink. It was refreshingly cold and before I knew it, it was already half gone. My aunt had landed on one of the drama-laden reality shows she loved so much. We sat and watched it for a bit together, with me making snide comments about the show and her smacking me when I did. It felt like we hadn’t missed a beat.

Soon, she was out to the kitchen again and bringing me another beer. This one went a little more slowly, and I relaxed and enjoyed the company.

“You know,” my aunt said suddenly, “it’s occuring to me now how much you are starting to look like your dad. Is it bad if I say that?”

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“Of course not, Auntie T,” I said. “I mean, he is… I mean, he was my dad. I was bound to look like him somehow. I guess I could do worse.”

Auntie T smiled. “He was a wonderful man, your dad. And by the way, you are both very handsome,” she teased, pinching my cheek. “I was always so jealous of your mom for having him. I wish I could have met a man like him for myself,” she said. Thinking back, we had a running joke in the family about who Auntie T would be bringing to Thanksgiving this year. She always found some characters. I think she was a little too much for most men, though. She was very determined, and didn’t take crap from anyone.

“Auntie T!” I exclaimed. “Are you saying you had a crush on my dad?” I smiled out of the corner of my mouth and took another drink. “I’m totally telling Mom.”

She turned bright red immediately. “Stop it, sweetie!” she said, pushing me jokingly. “Of course I could never do something like that. Your dad was far too in love with your mom to ever consider anyone else. And I had never seen your mom act the way she does … well, did, around your dad. I just wished I could have something like that. Something that was like, well, my destiny, I guess. I always felt like the men in my life were just there to pass the time.” She took another drink and gazed out the window for a minute. We both sat quietly for a moment in reflection.

My aunt went to the kitchen to get another beer for both of us. I sat there, taking it all in. Thinking about where our lives had all been just a couple years ago, and now, here we all were. I snapped back into reality when she came back and handed me my beer.

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“You’re so much like him,” she said suddenly. “You have a really good heart. When I needed help moving, I knew you would be the first to volunteer. I think your sister stopped taking my calls, when she heard I was moving,” she said with a smirk. “You always do the right thing.” She rubbed my shoulder gently. “He would have been here helping, too.”

“I know he would have,” I said. “If I didn’t know better, I would have said he probably had a little crush on you, too.” This was true; my father would have never done anything to jeopardize his relationship with my mom, but I think he saw her sister as part of the package and went out of his way to take care of her, too. And I think he relished the responsibility in a way.

She rolled her eyes again. “Anyway,” she said, “find something to watch. I think I’m going to get changed.” She put her beer down on the table next to the couch and disappeared into the bedroom. I sat and channel surfed in silence, drinking my beer. Finally I landed on my type of show, a rock music documentary. I watched for a bit, my attention fading in and out, until my aunt came back from the bedroom.

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